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The origins of the War of 1914, Volume 1

by Luigi Albertini

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I am very happy to have finally finished this book. I have been reading it so long it looks like a used book I would give a C-. The author, Luigi Albertini, took almost twenty years to write this book. The sources for the book are quite extensive, including an interview of Kaiser Whilhelm. Documentary excerpts from contemporary sources comprise fifteen to twenty percent of the text. They provide a strong contribution to the book's status as the authority for this period.
Volume 1 begins with the Congress of Berlin in 1878 and finishes in June of 1914. It is a history of European diplomacy during that period. The emphasis is on Austria-Hungary and the Balkans. I had very little knowledge of this topic when I started the book.
One of my biggest difficulties was keeping track of all of the different ministers, ambassadors and politicians from a vast area of central and southern Europe. There were very many people involved and their names were very foreign to me. I didn't know every name every time I read it but I got a good idea of what happened.
The book was chock full of interesting details and here is an example. The Sanjak of Novibazar, ( I have seen several spellings) was a piece of land between what was then Serbia and Montenegro in 1878. It also bordered on Bosnia-Herzegovina. At the Conference of Berlin the great powers of Europe were playing slice and dice with the map of the world. One of the victims was the Ottoman Empire who was slowing losing parts back then. Austria-Hungary was given the administration of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the right to station troops in the Sanjak. In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina and withdrew their troops from the Sanjak. After the Balkan wars in 1912-1913 the Sanjak was divided between Serbia and Montenegro. In 1914 there developed a danger that Serbia would annex Montenegro which would upset Italy because it would put Serbia on the Adriatic Sea. It also upset Austria-Hungary because they didn't want Serbia to get bigger. This was part of the background that contributed to the tension between these countries when the Archduke was killed. Pretty good story.
I learned a great deal reading this book. It is very interesting to see the perspective that the Powers had on the world at that time. It was their sandbox and they made all of the rules. Ministers would have a conference and borders would move. I look forward to volume 2 as the action moves closer to the start of the war. ( )
2 vote wildbill | Aug 7, 2012 |
1998 The Origins of the War of 1914: Volume One by Luigi Albertini translated and edited by Isabella M. Massey (read 20 Apr 1986) This is the first of three volumes. It covers European Relations from the Congress of Berlin to the Eve of the Murder of the Austrian Heir Apparent. Albertini was an editor of an Italian newspaper from 1900 to 1914. He worked on this project but did not live to complete it as he'd've wished. The forward is dated "Autumn 1942" by which time Albertini was already dead. Apparently it was first published in 1952, though maybe 1952 was when it was first published in English. The present edition was published in 1965, and it is the first book I have read from the Morningside College Library, which heretofore I have not been able to borrow books from, but now can. This book, as might be expected of its author, pays more attention to Italy than one is used to. This is, however, an excellent book and fun to read. I look forward to Volume II. ( )
  Schmerguls | Aug 12, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Luigi Albertiniprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Massey, Isabella M.Translator and Editormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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